MINNEAPOLIS — Just when Anthony Bennett’s window of opportunity slid open, the latest in a slew of Timberwolves injuries slammed it shut on his fingers.
The second-year power forward will miss at least two weeks with a right ankle sprain, coach and president Flip Saunders said after practice Saturday afternoon. Bennett became tangled up with Phoenix’s Markieff Morris in the first quarter of Friday’s win, left with what was initially diagnosed a lower right leg contusion, and didn’t return.
"We’ll probably re-evaluate him on Wednesday," Saunders said. "We don’t (know how severe it is)."
Along with Shabazz Muhammad, who hurt his finger catching it in Andrew Wiggins’ jersey during practice this week, Bennett won’t make the Wolves’ trip to Houston for Monday’s game against the Rockets.
Bennett made his third start of the season Friday in Minnesota’s first game since trading Thaddeus Young for Kevin Garnett. Bennett was expected to see an increase in playing time while recently acquired rookie Adreian Payne — who made his Wolves debut Friday night — gets used to the rigors of NBA life (he played just three games for Atlanta before the Hawks traded him last week).
In 53 games this year, Bennett averages 5.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 15.8 minutes per game. He’s struggled to find any manner of consistency after coming to the Twin Cities via the Kevin Love trade, which followed a very disappointing rookie season for Bennett in Cleveland.
Now, Payne will share the bulk of power-forward minutes with Garnett, with a sprinkling of center Gorgui Dieng at the position in bigger lineups.
Muhammad’s injury appears to be more of a day-to-day hindrance. He played 12 minutes, 43 seconds Friday night, finishing with seven points, two rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Before this latest mini-rash of injuries, Muhammad (outer oblique strain), Ricky Rubio (sprained ankle), Nikola Pekovic (ankle and wrist issues) and Kevin Martin (fractured wrist) all missed significant time with injuries, derailing the season and sending Saunders into full rebuild mode.
Reserve forward Robbie Hummel also remains out with a hand injury.